Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Adenan working on ten Full Autonomy areas

Putrajaya was also told that the oil and gas sector, 38.3 per cent of the Sarawak economy, was not benefiting the local people and therefore works against having Petronas in the state.

KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, giving an update in the Sarawak Assembly on the status of his government’s Full Autonomy talks with Putrajaya, said that he will work for starters on ten areas which he feels needs to be decentralized. “I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister and he has agreed in principle.” 

“The details on the types of empowerment that can be handed over to the Sarawak Government are being discussed between the Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia and the Secretary of the Sarawak Government.” 

Under the Full Autonomy plan outlined earlier by the Chief Minister, the Federal Government was asked to confine itself in Sabah and Sarawak to defence, internal security and foreign affairs in line with the letter and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 which envisages the Federation as an Equal Partnership of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya. 

The Sarawak Government was also in negotiations with the Federal Government and Petronas, the national corporation, on oil royalty, added Adenan. “Although the oil and gas sector is a major component, 38.3 per cent of the Sarawak economy, the irony is that it does not necessarily contribute to the incomes of our people.” 

The ten areas, resumed Adenan in outlining the case for Full Autonomy, include “the powers relating to prosecution for criminal offences under state laws”, and matters relating to finances, shipping, public works, environment, sports, shipping, and education. 

“The tenth matter involves matters related to health, welfare, tourism, fisheries, heritage and housing,” said Adenan. “Empowerment is a necessity considering that 52 years after the 1963 arrangement, 94,000 households in Sarawak are without potable water and about 46,000 households without 24 hours electricity. These are just some examples.” 

Hence, he added, extending water and electricity supplies to them is a big challenge unless the Sarawak Government has the necessary financial resources.

 As another example, he cited the fact that in 2012, the average rural household income was just RM2,754, just half of the average urban household income of RM5,517. “To reach the World Bank defined threshold of USD15,000 per capita Gross National Income (GNI) high income status by 2020, the Sarawak economy needs to grow at 8.5 per cent per annum between now and 2020.” 

The prognosis, he conceded, was not good. “The Sarawak economy slowed down from 10.6 per cent in the period 1967 to 1990 to 4.4 per cent for the period 1991 to 2014.” 

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